In an appeals court in California today, it was ruled that the previous judge, Michael L. Stern, that was overseeing the Quincy Jones monetary claim case, should not have allowed the jury to decide the outcome.
After Michael’s death in 2009, a figure of $30 million was initially sought by Jones, for projects which the Michael Jackson Estate has created. He claimed that he not only wanted royalties for the remixed songs that have been used since that time, but also licensing for the masters of ‘This Is It’.
In 2017, after the trial with the Estate, Jones was awarded, by a jury, $1.6 million for not being given the right to participate in the remixes. He was also awarded $5.3 million in joint venture profits, almost $2 million for ‘This Is It’ and $180,000 for foreign public performance income.
Today, the appeals court said that the judge, Michael L. Stern should have looked at extrinsic evidence relating to the contract to make a preliminary determination about the meaning of Jones’ producer contracts. Only when the contracts were reasonably susceptible to at least two interpretations, was it enough of a conflict in the evidence should the contractual interpretation be put to a jury. This judicial function was not followed which in turn allowed the jury to act in a judicial capacity.
The appeals court has looked at the extrinsic evidence and has come to the conclusion that nothing Jones has put forward negates he is due any more than a 10% royalty on record sales. They also stated that the remix damages that were sought were too speculative.
Therefore, the appeals court ruled that Jones’ fight for royalties for producing Michael’s records didn’t adequately interpret contracts and as a result, Jones’ $9.4 million damages has been reversed.